NFL Spin Zone’s goal is to be your one-stop destination for all things NFL. With the season quickly approaching, we will be bringing you some Q&A’s with editors around the Fansided Network to give you an idea of how each team should fare in the upcoming season.
Up first is the Miami Dolphins. Brian Miller, site editor from PhinPhanatic.com, took some time out of his schedule to answer a few questions and give us an informed look at what to expect from South Beach this season.
Phin Phanatic: It’s really hard to gauge any level of expectations with the Miami Dolphins this year. New offensive coordinator, loss of two starting running backs, Reggie Bush’s injury history and of course Chad Henne’s uncertain future as well. This team could very easily be 1-16 or 10 – 6.
NFLSZ: Who are a few players that need to perform this season or their futures with the team will be in jeopardy?
Phin: There is no question that Chad Henne is that guy for the Dolphins. He is in a contract year and this is it. Of all the players on the Dolphins roster, Henne is the only one in real danger of playing himself out of a job this year. I suppose Paul Soliai on the defense could be in that category as well. The Dolphins haven’t tried to negotiate a new deal with him and he is playing on the 12 million dollar franchise tag that he signed prior to the lockout.
NFLSZ: What players are poised for a breakout year?
Phin: Honestly, there are none. I know that sounds bad but too much is riding on unknowns. Offensively everything depends on Brian Daboll’s offense, Chad Henne’s ability to become a leader, and the play of the offensive line. Without all three of those clicking in the right direction, it will not matter what happens with guys like Brandon Marshall, Reggie Bush, Brian Hartline, or speedy rookie WR Clyde Gates. Defensively, the team should be a top 5 or 6 unit under returning DC Mike Nolan. On that defense, LB Koa Misi could take some big strides to getting his name known as could interior LB AJ Edds. But both will be splitting time with other players and Edds isn’t a starter.
NFLSZ: What is Miami’s biggest strength heading into the season?
Phin: There is no question that our strength is on the defensive side of the ball. The Dolphins were ranked in the top 10 defensively last year and lost no one of consequence this past off-season. In fact they added LB Kevin Burnett who should be an upgrade over Channing Crowder who was released. They are also getting back last years first round pick DE Jared Odrick and LB AJ Edds who were both out 2010 with injuries.
NFLSZ: What worries you most about the Dolphins?
Phin: The complete uncertainty with the offense and especially the offensive line. Last years line was horrid and despite drafting Mike Pouncey at number 16 this year, the Oline is still having issues. Without a solid offensive line, the Dolphins won’t be able to operate an offense.
NFLSZ: Where do you see the Phins finishing in the AFC East?
Phin: Third. Their defense should make them better than Buffalo but offensively they are not ready to compete with the Jets and Patriots.
NFLSZ: What are some storylines to follow in Miami this year?
Phin: The use of Reggie Bush and Chad Henne’s relationship with Brandon Marshall. If Henne struggles early, Marshall will have a fit and the continuity or what little there may be will be gone. Many fans are already booing Chad Henne so if he struggles out of the gate, fans will be yelling for Matt Moore or someone else.
NFLSZ: Predict the Dolphin’s record.
Phin: 8-8 Like I said, this team could be 1-16 or 10-6 depending on the unknowns.
NFLSZ: How will the shortened offseason effect your team this year?
Phin: The Dolphins were the first team to organize player only workouts and they continued those throughout the entire lockout. The Brian Daboll offense was being taught by Chad Henne and the Dolphins themselves drafted players at positions that require little long term practicing to make the move to the NFL. The players they added in free agency fit their system so this team should actually be better than others at acclimating to the start of the season. At least it won’t be the reason why this team wins or loses.
NFLSZ: What can fans expect from Phin Phanatic this upcoming season?